In The Community

Community Health Initiatives


Photovoice is a community-based approach to documentary photography that puts cameras into the hands of community residents so they can document the barriers to healthy eating and active living in their own communities. By creating a visual record of the environmental conditions in their neighborhoods, residents identify opportunities for community change, helping to set priorities and act as advocates for change with city officials, policy makers, and legislators.

Photovoice is now being used by over 300 people living in more than 40 communities that Kaiser Permanente works with. Here are some results to date:

  • In Richmond, Calif., residents used Photovoice to help convince city officials to demolish a liquor store that was a magnet for crime and a source of junk food for local school children.
  • In Commerce City, Colo., the community used Photovoice images to support changes to the city’s General Plan that elevate the importance of biking and walking in key development decisions.
  • In Park Hill, Colo., residents used Photovoice to get a local park renovated, making safer and more welcoming to families.


For more information on Photovoice, including the curriculum that has been used in conjunction with Photovoice, contact

Download Promoting Policy and Environmental Change Using Photovoice, a study published in the Health Promotion Practice journal.

Read about how Photovoice is making a difference in the Park Hill community of Colorado.

The Process

The work of Photovoice usually takes place in two stages.

photovoice2_captionedThe first stage is intended to capture barriers to healthy eating and active living that exist in the community. Resident photographers attend a group training session to learn about Photovoice and how to operate the cameras that they receive. They take photos of people, places, or things connected with the food and physical activity choices that exist in their communities. The photos are often of things that residents want to change. Once the photos are captured, residents write captions for their photos that convey what they see is happening in the picture and what they hope to do about it.

photovoice1The second stage is designed to capture the changes that have taken place in the community environment as a result of the community’s efforts. Photos are typically taken in the final year of funding for that particular community collaborative project. Captions that are written to accompany the photos reflect on the impact of the changes that were made and plans for future advocacy efforts.

Kaiser Permanente is pioneering Photovoice as a method to evaluate results of community change efforts. With the help of residents, the photos and captions they produce through Photovoice help to document what is different in the community, from the community’s perspective, as a result of the work that was done. Such documentation is an invaluable tool in the ongoing collaborative work that Kaiser Permanente is engaged in, helping us to assess the full extent of our impact so as to continually improve in the way we partner with communities.